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Column for 4.20.11
It was thoughtful of Dick Williams to send me a copy of his latest book, “Along Oriskany & Big Creeks,” which is about the geology, history and people of the Oriskany Creek area of southern Oneida County. It was also smart of Dick to send me the book since I’ll be interviewing him about the book on television later this week.
There have been times when I’ve interviewed authors without first having read their book, but it wasn’t fun for me or for them.
I’m looking at the cover of Dick’s book right now. There’s a picture of Oriskany Creek and a picture of a grandstand in Waterville, which reminds me of the grandstand on the grounds of the Boonville-Oneida County Fair.
According to a news release that came with “Along Oriskany & Big Creeks,” the 148-page book has 65 pictures and descriptions of the 10 hamlets and villages along the creek, plus sections on the geology, the history, the trees and plants, the animals, the fishing, and the economy of the Oriskany Creek area.
Speaking of the fishing, John Pitarresi, who writes for the Observer-Dispatch about a variety of topics, including fishing, states in the book that Oriskany Creek is “a gem.” John also writes: “...the quality of its fishing remains very high.”
John has caught some big trout in Oriskany Creek. At least that’s what he has told me.
Clinton photographer Marc Goldberg took about half the pictures that appear in the book. Retired Hamilton College geology professor Don Potter wrote about rocks and minerals and the effect of glaciers on the Oriskany Creek area.
I’ve been skimming through the book. Included are these chapters: The Oriskany Creek Watershed Changes; The Stream, Creek, the Falls and Its Tributaries; The Geology under and at the Sides of the Creek; Fauna and Flora; Military History; Indians of the Creek and Valley; The Run to the Mohawk; Economy of the Valley.
When Dick’s book arrived in the mail, I thought of David Beetle, author of the classic “Along the Oriskany.” In fact, in the introduction of Dicks’ book, Beetle is mentioned.
“In 1947,” the introduction starts off, “the Utica Observer-Dispatch collected several columns by David H. Beetle and published “Along the Oriskany,” a 190-page book tracing the history, economy and the natural aspects of Oriskany Creek in its run to the Mohawk River. It told the story of the creek, the valley, the geography, the geology, the people, the canal and railroad, the Indians and the iron mines and blast furnaces. After 64 years, it’s time to take a twenty-first century look at the valley and the creek to gauge changes and also constants, as they apply to the residents, farmers, sportsmen and visitors alike.”
There is, of course, a section of the book entitled “About the Author.” I already knew Dick once served as Clinton’s mayor and has been active in area historical groups and that he had taught history at the high school level.
I didn’t know, though, that he had been an Army officer or that he had been vice-principal at Whitesboro Senior High School from 1980 until his retirement in 1995. The vice principal, at least where I went to high school, had the job of being the enforcer. Dick seems too easy going for that kind of work.
Anyway, “Along Oriskany & Big Creeks” sells for $24 and is available at several locations, including the Oneida County Historical Society in Utica.
Now that I’m finished writing this, I can go read “Along Oriskany & Big Creeks.” I will finish it before my upcoming TV interview with Dick.